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Ghosts can be Real?

My dad died suddenly of a heart attack (a broken heart?) when I was 31, leaving me with the greatest physical grief I have ever known until the present. My emotional grief did not really take hold until I became a Marriage and Family Therapist in 1985 and more intensely as a Primal Therapist in the early 1990s. The dam I had built was broken down during my fourth marriage to Gregory. I did not just cry buckets; I cried waterfalls like those of Niagara and Victoria.

Before this, I had contacted a reunion therapist so I could see my dad again, as I rarely dreamt of him. That person cancelled and even reading Reunions by Raymond Moody did not suffice. My past pattern to visit’s dad grave on his birthday May 4th and death day October 6th, and on Memorial Day EVOLved to monthly gravesite visits to say “I love you” out loud, which had never happened face-to-face, although it was frequently written in cards and letters.

I was flabbergasted on October 21st, 2020. I had visited dad’s grave a third time this month because I wanted a better photo of (him) framed with colored leaves, as dad gave me his great love of nature besides loving me, his non-biological daughter. I had parked my moped on the roadside, in front of the cemetery, one-half mile from my home. When I parked in my driveway, a man yells to me, “Are you okay? You looked upset coming out of the cemetery.” I was dumbfounded. How could he tell, as I still had my helmet on? “I’ve seen your moped parked there before,” says this stranger with a Covid-mask on.

I learn his name is Adam, lives nearby, and his wife who is driving their car is Kelly. We wave at one another. Adam is a young man; I am stunned to be offered a hug. We do. The coronavirus has not prevented the ghost of my dad hugging me.

FIGHTING BACK…for LOVE

 

I have FALLEN IN LOVE with a Trumpster…how can this be? Is it really true that opposites attract in this (political) fashion? I am an independent who votes progressive – meaning democratic😊

But my heart does not KNOW this.

It is magical how Dave and I met in July 2020, experiencing our first date and kiss at Eternal Flame Falls – yes, a flame exists with water pouring over it. By chance I am swimming laps in Skaneateles Lake when he comes out to swim near me and says hello. I see only his head and shoulders, which ignite an attraction. I can’t believe we continue a conversation while I continue to lap. Then, follow him out of the water, to view a 6’2” broad-shouldered, muscular-armed man that fans the embers into a flame of rare attraction.

We share a love of nature, especially waterfalls that sizzle into falling in love like the rapids of creek walks we’ve shared for a month. Our conversations are easy, until I learn of his support of Trump. Dave says, “I don’t want to argue.” Dampen our flame, I sense. “It’s good to argue, discuss, to understand one anothers point of view” I say. Respectfully.

We engage over his NRA fear if gun laws are changed, we will go down the slippery slope to no guns. I point out how Trump has pulled us out of the Climate Treaty and without BIG attention to it we will not have a livable planet. No guns needed. And if the Affordable Care Act is decimated, isn’t health care a basic right to be able to protect ourselves? To live.

Dave points out how losing jobs to immigrants and China’s cheap labor will harm Americans. Yes, economically, and these issues have been and will continue to be addressed…but what are our priorities? Dave concedes that he doesn’t like Trump’s character calling him an idiot, but what is most important is that we are able to have a constructive ‘argument.’ He agrees.

Dave is in the process of leaving an abusive marriage where his wife calls him names, says she wants to kill him, while drinking most of the day and talking to herself. All his family, even his two adult children want him to leave. I understand it is difficult to leave the home he’s known for 30 years; has built with his large carpenter-hands that warm mine along with my heart into a oneness of making love wildly and tenderly.

His open-heart surgery a year ago sent him to the eternal light of choice, fighting back for life. To live. I drive two and a half hours from Ithaca to Mockingbird Campground each weekend, to hike to various waterfalls, six weeks in love, Dave saying: “You’d drive all this way to be with me?”

“Dear delight of your father” whom I love truly more everyday

Today, September 7, 2020, Labor Day, I finally counted dad’s letters which I had estimated to be over 100 letters, sent in the late 60s and early seventies, while I was a nursing student, then graduating with a BSN and MRS. within days of each another. I was surprised to count 170 to Di, then 65 to Chuck and me.

I am crying as I read one letter addressed: Dear Di, Chuck and Pooh (1972). I had read it on May 17, 1997, as well as all the others, while in California attending the Primal Center for a year, attending individual and group therapy weekly, hoping to be certified as a Primal Therapist, already practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist for ten years. As if digging for the oil of love: real, true, pure.

Tears write again and again, sometimes sobbing, validating how much I miss my dad’s special love (for me), he who wrote his name on my birth certificate although I am not his biologically.  I felt ‘equally’ loved to his two biological children born after me, Constance, and Eric.

WHY is it that we could not say I love you into each other’s eyes, only in letters? Or in a card on Valentine’s Day. It is remarkable that a male would be the more nurturing parent during the 1950s and 60s, as seen in the following examples reflected in his amazing creative writing, while being an astronomer. Sadness rises up my chest like a fluffy pure white cloud when I think of how extraordinary my dad is/was.

It is very difficult to choose what letters to include without writing a book. These are selections from letters usually 2-4 pages long, arriving usually weekly. (Note: that if I add my thoughts within dad’s letters, they will be italicized.)

January 17, 1967: After a long detailed description: “So it goes all day long and at times, when a day was particularly rough, or people particularly dissatisfied, having to cook our supper and do the dishes seems to be the last straw,”…”well, how are you?” (tears) Hope so much that you are well, and all is well with you. Bet I’ve picked up the phone half a dozen times to call you and it has been very difficult not to actually do it and have a little patience. A father’s concern for the well-being of his children is however as natural as breathing…however, a postcard with the simple word “well” would do a lot to set my mind and heart at ease.” I’m crying 8/25/2020, thinking such a small request from a huge heart of love, glad he could ask. This letter ends with: “Take real good care of yourself and don’t forget to eat and sleep. :)” Re-reading these letters helps me appreciate his love more and more deeply…noticing, pausing, to see he writes ‘real’ good care of yourself. He ends with: “Best of luck with your finals. Know that there is at least one guy in Ithaca, who is pulling (tears) mighty hard for you. WHY? (my internal question too) Because he loves you. Your dad”

January 5, 1967: “Our sensitivity to the hurts and needs of others – our ability to help, are so much dependent upon the hurts we ourselves have experienced, and the reliance upon Him we have developed” – both as born again Christians back then. I gave up religion in 1984. “Know however (his little sermon as he would call it), that it comes from a heart full of love for you. Your dad.”

February 14, 1967: A Valentine card reading: For you daughter, a loving Valentine because you have a charming way of growing dearer every day. He adds: “and lovelier too.” Signed: “I love you very very much” (tears)

May 19, 1969: “Even though you must be in orbit (or at least on cloud nine) yourself about now, you probably have not paid too much attention to our latest space venture. For the next one, Apollo 11 that is to make a landing on the moon, we’ve developed a special camera here at the center (Cornell Space Sciences), that one of the crew will use to take real close up pictures of things on the lunar surface with. It has a long handle with a trigger on it that will permit them to snap pictures only inches from the surface or objects without bending down. Was involved in constructing a model of it, that Apollo 11 crew are going to use during their training period prior to their flight in Houston. It is a to scale model, except that its weight is 1/6th of the actual one, to compensate for the difference in the gravity. We are also among those, that will receive a sample of the lunar surface material that they hope to bring back. All of this is very exciting and I am glad enough to be involved in this, if only in a very small way.

Time for the Salties. Have a real good day, Di and I do hope, that everything will fall into place most nicely for you. By the way, Dr. Hull read your wedding invitation from the pulpit yesterday. Love you, Di (tears) Your old Dad.”

July 9, 1969: “Dear Di and Chuck, Your lovely card arrived on Saturday and for it and all it contained, many many thanks. At times, I have been accused of being prejudiced, but it seems to me that I will have to go a ways to catch up with you, Di.” (I cried reading this 11/26/96) … “On Saturday, Connie, Heather and I went to Valois to pick cherries (my favorite summer fruit). We came back with quite a bunch of them and they are (were) as nice as ever I did see. Large and sweet and near perfect. As usual, I climbed to the very top of a tree, where the nicest ones are. Took some to Grammy who seemed to be happy with them and gave a few to the Fosters and Mr. Rudolph.” I love the detail dad gives me and his exponential generosity which fills me with sadness now because I miss his essence of love so much! The time he took to write, to share: “Tomorrow, I am invited for supper to the deWolfs. The reason for the invites is, that they want me to have an unobtrusive opportunity to talk with some gal, who seems to have an emotional problem as well as a spiritual one. Just why George feels that I could be of some help to her, I am not sure.” At his job at Cornell Space Sciences he was known as the counselor, and he did volunteer on the phones at Suicide and Crisis service in the 70s. One of the first males. Now in my seventies, each year I grow more appreciative of this truly special man, my daddy. “Having left a very good paying job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard after the war and come to Cornell to work for ‘peanuts’ I can appreciate what it is like to get down to the last coppers. Still, having to make do has its compensations, i.e. the greater concern for and reliance upon the help to each other, a greater appreciation for that which you do have and the freedom from material obligations to other to mention a few. True, it is not easy at times, but a rather good school, if you are a willing student. Sure glad though you found those 35 clams! Have a suggestion – as far as possible, never schedule a payment for the first of the month. (uh oh, my credit card payment is due the first😊) The 5th of the month, say, is a much better time. Checks are a day or two late sometimes or for some reason you may not be able to pay on the first. If a payment is due on the 5th and you usually pay on the 1st or 2nd anyhow, it helps your credit standing and gives you some leaveway.” We generally spoke on the phone once a week, so to take so much time to explain in his letters underlines his love for me. “Better get going now. Will write again and soon, when I have a little leisure time. Be good. Miss you guys. Love, Dad C.”

May 9, 1972: I cried in reading it 5/7/97 and 8/13/2020 once again missing dad’s love, the way he shows it here once again! “Dear Di, Chuck and Pooh (first grandchild Erin), Just a quick note to say Hi and to thank you again for your presence last Thursday, for contributing so great a share to my happiness of not only that day, but every day that you are all in my consciousness. When I consider all aspects of my life, each thing that goes into the total experience of it, I consider the experience that you create in it, that is so very great and fine and that I so enjoy dwelling upon.

There is the tie, Di. (this was not meant to be ‘punny’). Having been all my life somewhat of a conservative (starting with my upbringing) it takes just a little bit of courage to wear a tie as colorful as the one you gave me. I did however wear it to church last Sunday and never have I heard such compliments on anything else I have ever worn. Ada Miller perhaps put it best when she said that she would start this week to make some ties for Henry. I was of course proud to talk of the origin of this one and that too was very nice for me. That especially so, since it showed such careful and expert craftsmanship, which I so much appreciate and enjoy.

Hope so much that you are all well and that you had a good and safe trip to your reunion. As soon as Eric (my brother) is done with school, we surely will be down for a day. An architectural problem that he and another person did was cited as the best of the class. A heart full of love to you all, your Dad C.” I am sitting with my hands on my cheeks wondering how to describe my dad’s extraordinary person. Even though he was afraid to come to me at age 16, to share feelings about me just learning I was not his biologically by my mother shouting at me in anger: “He’s not your father!” during a fight where I was defending him. This was never resolved between us as he died of a sudden heart attack at age 60…still these letters show his feelings of love so transparently (just thought how the word parent is within). I can never be greatFULL enough!

Amazingly, he also wrote frequent letters to his little sister, Resi, living in the town they were born in: Dreis, Germany. I had some translated from German into English, here is one paragraph written 9/26/73: “A long time ago you talked in one of your letters about walking over a mountain when it is cold and the wind is blowing and that you would love to put your hand into the warm pocket of my jacket. I think about this and would give something to make this wish come true. Do you understand what I am trying to say and wish for you? I hope so and I also hope that just this thought can make you a little bit happy (tears) I still have to say another thing: I love my little sister very much and with all my heart.” (crying 9/3/1997 and sobbing 8/13/2020)

May 5, 1970: “Dear Di and Chuck: (paragraph from second page of four page letter) You mentioned, Di, how much you’d like to do ‘creative’ things. How well I can understand that. For some time now, my own life has been devoid of any such thing, having to devote what little energy is left after work to menial tasks of ‘housekeeping.’ This will have to change, lest I shrivel up entirely. As soon as I can, I will buy me a recorder (as a start) and learn to play it. When Eric goes to college in the fall, I will have more time. Hope also to do some serious reading then and attend the concerts here on a more regular basis, as well as more of the lectures. Finally, I shall (or hope to) have a more active social life.”  I share this to illustrate his thoughtfulness about what a good life is and how connected he is to my feelings to be more creative. Tears stream as I read his closing gratitude, “Thank you again for all you are and all you give me. Hope that you have (or will) enjoy The Letterman. Much love and prayers, Your Dad C.”

My most precious card from dad was sent November 1, 1965, while I attended the christian college my mother wanted me to go to, (only for one year thank god😊 while my dad wanted me to stay at Cornell where I was on probation due to failing calculus. And a 65 in English. Yet dad was the one who came to visit me there and afterwards wrote a card that lists 12 things he wants me to know and now tears fall as the paper’s brittleness has the binding falling apart… breaking my heart while fastening our bond tighter as number 12 says “that I love you.” And number 9: (number of transformation-spiritual enlightenment/universal love in numerology) “That you make comments and ask questions in ‘Bible’ (class) and are not afraid to think and ask and how happy I am about that.” Makes me happy too! As does my present home address at 999 Coddington Road for four years😊 All I can think, and enthusiastically say out loud is “I love you the bestest of all the men in my life, even after four marriages that have helped me evolve into a better beloved. And I am truly more and more greatFULL!

Dianea Colbert, Griffeth, Thompson, Colbert-Mauboussin, Kohl-Riise, KOHL, my dad’s true name, which he changed to Colbert when becoming an American.

 

 

 

CONSEQUENCES bad may be good?

I am 73 years old. For the past couple years, I have taken 6 online courses as required prerequisites to be able to apply to graduate school at Ithaca College. I want to teach HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP SKILLS at Ithaca High School; a goal I have fostered since 1991. During the past near 30 years I’ve: met with school superintendents, principals, guidance counselors, social workers, gathered petitions from community members as well as students, written to PTA newsletters, guest taught with 6 teachers who support this effort and co-taught with a health teacher at Ithaca’s Alternative school…still being met with resistance, wary of vulnerability. This past year I have attended monthly curriculum committee meetings and Ithaca Mayor, Svante Myrick, wrote a letter advocating for this course to be made a priority. To no avail. So, I need a master’s in teaching to make something happen. Hopefully.

The first week of June 2020 I find myself on Zoom, with mostly, 20-someones for two online courses: Global History and Literacy, Reading and Culture. I am like a turtle when it comes to technology. I am overwhelmed and scared. And determined. But I would have been lost if it had not been for Claire, the woman who lives in the apartment above me. When I cannot get connected to the online classroom, I text Claire who is immediately here with the correct click. If only I can get through the first week, I tell myself, I can keep going. For the first two weeks, Claire is at my beckon call (should I thank the Design Of the Universe (DOU) that Covid has her working from home?). I tell her she is a godsend despite my dislike of the word god. (dog backwards) Like a dog, she’s my best techy-friend. It is hard to believe her repeating text: “I’m happy to help.” After completing two weeks, I breathe, I made it! Only 3 weeks to go to finish my first two courses. (obviously, this is a very intensive 13-month master’s degree.)

My global history professor, a man near 50, is flexible with this unusual will-not-be-teaching-history student. For my final project, I am supported to create a website for HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP SKILLS, not to be about history as the other students must do. I receive an A!

My literacy teacher, a younger woman, is not flexible and demands an assignment on my content focus (history) although it is really “social studies:” and I had already submitted the paper as HealthyRelationshipSkills content. I fail the assignment. My advisor is empathetic with me, but more sympathetic to her requirements. Shockingly, I also fail the Final Assignment due to her ‘rigid’ requirements – I wrote 4and2/3 pages, not 5 as required and was deducted points for that and other such quantities over qualities. I was shocked to find my final grade to be a C. According to Ithaca College policy that C dropped me from the program.

I felt stunned and hurt: misunderstood, and betrayed. All the diversity issues she had us read and discuss did not apply to me: the disadvantaged older student, not in school for decades and way behind in technology efficiency skills.

Within 24 hours, I recognized the DOU wanted to change my direction, the consequences of my due diligence were to feel proud that I finished two very intense challenging courses. That I was free for the summer, free to go with the flow of my heart once again. Free as a hummingbird in my flower garden.

DISTANCE from Love is…

 

It is Daddy Day 2020. I am waking up in my double bed alone, remembering the dream that repeatedly showed up during my childhood. I would be sliding down the hill next to our garage; when I landed at the bottom, my head ended up in a sack of flour, and when I pulled my head out, my nose had grown long, like Pinocchio’s. Then dad would appear to wipe off my long nose with a washcloth.

I don’t remember when that dream stopped; thinking, sensing it was in high school when I connected that dad was the one to come and help me. He was the parent who nurtured me with loving acceptance, not my mother. She was much more rigid about our behavior having to reflect the ‘born again’ religion we were raised in. No smoking. (dad did in the cellar) No drinking. (fine) No secular movies in the theater (not so fine), and above all no dancing after elementary age (bad),   learned in my thirties, that my mother had said, “Leave her alone, she’ll get over it.” NO. I created a protective shell around myself, like a turtle, slowly burying my feelings deeper and deeper. Even during nursing school, when my dad noted in one of his many introspective, sensitive, loving letters: missing demonstrations of your affection. Wondering why. Tears ooze because I cannot remember what I wrote back. I vehemently wish I could! We both cradled our fear to speak face-to-face. Or, to say I love you, although we wrote it to one another many times, before he died of a sudden heart attack at age 60, me being heart-broken at 31.

Since, I have become increasingly closer to him in my heart, by rescuing my tears. Daily. If need BE.

This spring, I discover two letters dad wrote to my mother when they were falling in love on the ship Huddleston, returning from WWII. Likewise, I continue to fall in love with my dad as I EVOLve, rubbing tears into my cheeks as healing medicine. Will I ever be less disappointed when I hear similar messages like Jennifer Lopez saying, “Don’t cry” to a group of Latina dancers on World of Dance this week?

Will I remember how my dad was my savior when he washed the lie off my face in my dream: the lie that I need religion to be saved from hell? To feel deeply loved by him. YES.

 

HIGHS and LOWs with Mother Earth

I love Mother Earth and Father Sky especially as I feel the clouds cuddle me while riding my moped with its high-speed two-cycle motorcycle engine. I am distracted by seeing cans and bottles thrown to the roadside, feeling sad for mother earth and those who do not love themselves; so how can they care for her?

So, a few years ago I signed up as an Adopt-A-Highway volunteer for a few miles of Coddington Road, Ithaca, NY where Mother Earth’s beauty is exclaimed with waterfall gorges aplenty. Alas, beer cans aplenty ravage the ditches. Pepsi, a few Coke, Mountain Dew thrown in. It’s impossible to express the satisfaction I feel as I lower myself into the ditches and climb out to the “high” of salvaged beauty.

There are times when the cans are filled with dirt and weeds. Once, cigarettes stuffed a can so full that it took me more than ten minutes to pull them all out. I’m sure my fingers felt the distaste of soggy tobacco. But that is not the worst of it! Another time I found bits of some animal after its beer party. At first I couldn’t make out the parts of the pink flesh; after continuing to pull, hard, as the can openings are small, I came to a larger piece with a tail. A second mouse’s head appeared, this one more intact, even more difficult to remove. I felt the low of disgust as well as the high of completing this maybe 20-minute task. Was I freeing the can or the dead mice?

Another time, I found myself removing animal hair clumps, pulling, and pulling, determined to empty the Keystone beer (most frequent brand landing on my road) can so it could be recycled. I’m guessing it took me near 30 minutes to empty, and guessing it was the remains of a rat?

Only since January 2020 did I decide to keep track of how much money I have accumulated from these many cans and bottles. As Memorial Day approaches, the sum is $43.90. WOW! As the weather has warmed toward spring, I’ve been excited to drive to many waterfall hikes in central New York that I have never been to – continuing what my best friend, Gaylee, began with her Guide to Central and Western New York Waterfalls. She left Mother Earth plane May 3, 2019, yet her spirit is with me in new villages, gulleys, creek beds, to waterfalls which fill me with overflowing pleasure. I lean down LOW to pick up cans and bottles discarded in these places too, while selecting heart rocks from water-wonders to make borders for my flower gardens. To remember not only Gaylee, but also how Native Americans have cherished Mother Earth, most recently demonstrated at Standing Rock, where my granddaughter Denali joined them.

I greatfully adopt Mother Earth as my HIGHway.

 

Hol-i-Daze

 

Holy cow! I cannot stop smiling, after seeing holy referenced in relation to the word holiday, a holy day before the 12th century. As a psychotherapist, I have delved deeply into my vulnerable tears: broken down the dam(n) of repressed childhood hurts, becoming magnificent waterfalls flowing, yes flowing down my cheeks, creating singing creeks on my face. To the point of telling everyone, “crying makes me happy”, first heard from my male Bangladesh client years ago.

My tears became ‘holy’ to me, washing away long held anger at the church and my mother. It is not a fun re-creation – which is what a holiday is supposed to be.

Right? Yet, I felt so excited when my tears opened my eyes to seeing the message within the word EVOLution. I think it was around the turn of this century that I saw LOVE in the mirror image of EVOLution seen backwards. I have written of this revelation in my books, especially EVOLution of an Orgasm – retitled EVOLution of my LOVE because someone in my dentist’s office complained that the first title was not a family-oriented book. Maybe 3-4 years later, 2007, all-of-a-sudden I saw a fuller message in the word EVOL-u-ti-on. In the mirror: no-it-u-LOVE, saying it out loud. I jumped out of my chair, up and down, joyfully screaming: “WOW! That is the whole meaning of evolution! WOW!” Sometime later, I am gazing at the word HEART(s); one after another the words spill out:

Hear

Ear

Tears

Hert (phonetically)

She, he

Share, ARE, as earth, star, heat, eat, tea, hate, star(ing)

Rare

Which became a sentence:

Hear the hert through your ear as tears of he or she share who you really ARE. Then as the earth feels love…you will become a star, shining to heat your hate out…staring into the rare heart of LOVE.

I felt as if I was on holiday.

A celebration…relaxing with my connection to everyone and everything! Holy cow! The day I wrote this essay, I went to my usual lunch place, Ned’s pizza, and there on the counter was a magazine with a front cover advertisement for CBD Fresh Mozzarella imaging a cow being elevated by a hot air balloon! Holy cow! or Holy Mackerel Andy as my dad would say! *

 

  • When I googled Holy Mackerel Andy, I was surprised to find that it is a song sung by the Treniers in 1957.

 

NOTE: from The Book of the Two Ways, written over four thousand years ago: “the gods I created from my sweat, but mankind is from the tears of mine eye.”

No foolin…I love my COUNTRY

 It’s February 2020 and I am listening to NPR’s Onpoint, focusing on how we can know we are being told the truth by our government. One guest is a man raised in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, “a dictator who could kill anyone who didn’t have a photo of Hussein in their home or questioned who is imprisoned in a central Baghdad building.” I am shocked by this environment where he admits he had to lie to his children, his family, in order to survive.

Then, I think of my dad who emigrated to the US when Hitler was rising to power, being a rebel youth at age 17. He knew no English when he arrived; only an aunt and uncle in NY City who mistreated him so he eventually was on his own as a garbage collector or elevator operator, only able to speak, “going up, going down, watch your step please.” I am saddened as I write, being aware of the struggle for all of us to be free, to become ourselves. We humans have all been “traumatized” (word the Iraqi man used to not know the truth) by not knowing the truth. Of love.

And now more deeply appreciate why my dad became a US citizen, joining the US army to fight in WWII against his homeland of Germany. And why I have a vivid memory of our family’s 4th of July tradition: to walk to Cornell University’s Schoellkopf football stadium, to sit and watch several marching bands play in various formations, holding the American flag high. Everyone rose to stand as the flag floated by to exit the stadium when I see my dad tap the shoulder of the man in front of us saying: “Please remove your hat in respect of the American flag!”

My dad and many others (my mother was a nurse who took care of soldiers such as my dad) fought for the EVOLving liberties we experience in America – and yet President Trump tells thousands of documented (fact-checked) lies and tells the truth tellers it’s FAKE news.

I comfort myself knowing the historical pendulum swings from liberal to conservative, where progress stalls before lurching forward with: Black Lives Matter, Women’s Lives Matter, Gay Lives Matter, and Mother Earth Matters.

And why hiking to the many waterfalls of Ithaca, NY. and having a love affair with the National Parks, having hiked, and/or camped in 54 of them is another immense appreciation of how the TRUTH makes us truly FREE!.

I am a lucky girl!

 

 

 

 

Are we really STRANGERS?

For months, morning waking contains graveyard-like thoughts: Is my life worthwhile? Meaningful? Will my good health last? Memories…which ones last and why?

Maybe a week ago, I was climbing into my Jeep Liberty and suddenly am surprised to see a man walking in shorts toward the antique shop I just exited – called FOUND – where a LARGE painted fisted finger points at him and the stairs entering  FOUND.

It’s 13 degrees Fahrenheit!

I start to drive out of the parking lot, and abruptly turn in a circle to park in that lot again.  I walk into FOUND, finding that twenty-thirty-something bronzed attractive man. His flashy brown eyes and my gray-blues meet as I vocalize “Aren’t you cold in shorts? Where are you from?” He tells me he’s from Mexico and just came from the gym. Bashfully, I ask if I could take a photo outside so the huge finger can point at his boldness. He requests: “Please send me the photo.” I do. He replies, “Thank you!” If only I was 40 years younger.

A few days ago, I am dancing at a local winery and notice an elderly couple that I sense I have seen/met before. They are both under 5 feet tall, so at the break, I bend down on my knees next to their table to inquire about my familiarity. We’ve figured out it was at the Cortland Country Music barn a few years back. I ask: “How old are you? You dance so well together.” She’s 90 and he is 92…and brags that he has 20/20 vision with no need for a hearing aid. I am inspired to live another 20 years, and leave saying to them, “Don’t say no one has gotten down on their knees for you!” Laughing together, no longer strangers.

Then, yesterday, I was possessed by the idea to buy a small rug (3 ½ x1 1/2 feet) that would fit perfectly between 2 other much larger rugs in my bedroom: covering the ugly indoor-outdoor dirt-brown-wall-to-wall carpet. I drive to Mimi’s Attic, my usual go-to-gently-used furniture store where I bought one of the other 2 rugs covering most of the unpleasant installed carpet. The usual box of rugs has no small rugs; disappointed, I wander around until my eyes settle on a small rug hanging over a room dividing rung. The colors would blend with my other 2 rugs, connecting earth tones of red, yellow, orange and bluish gray. The rug’s label reads “Iranian prayer rug.” Being raised in a christian fundamentalist religion that I rebelled against and left at age 38; I am still healing from their strange abusive use of prayer. (I do ask the Universe to keep me safe on longer drives, and to send healing love to ill friends.) I sleep one night on my decision to buy the rug which now lies quietly between the two larger rugs, fitting perfectly.

Loving WORK

 

Even in my seventh decade I still struggle with feeling conflicted…between responsibility and carefreeness – where’s the balance? Is there?  Isn’t being a parent the most important work? On New Years day 2020, I hiked in upper Buttermilk Falls State park, a carefree day, not seeing psychotherapy clients (my part-time job). No plans. No one to be responsible for. My two daughters are doing well, having responsibility for their own children: my three granddaughters.

I wander off the beaten path that I’ve walked hundreds of times since my youth. It’s my hometown. I never tire of waterfalls, the music of flowing water. I lost my best friend, Gaylee to cancer 6 months ago, my hiking partner who began a heart-rock garden in a nature preserve in our hometown, Ithaca, NY., about 7 years ago. Since, I’ve collected many heart rocks from various parks, locally and internationally. New Year’s Day I spot a fat one – 3” thick and maybe 6” wide, perfectly heart-shaped. I write GAYLEE on it with the edge of another stone, letters of white. The earlier snow has melted…but not my missing her. I take a photo and send to my family and her partner, Jim. It’s no longer work to cry like it used to be growing up in a society still saying “I’m sorry” when tears arise.

I walk to see a taller rapid white waterfall and as usual I must take a photo of the two of us. (Less work to be lonely.) I cross over a stream I had never paid attention to before and saw a partially flat rock sticking out from the bank to the water. I pull it out, seeing a resemblance, an abstract heart-shape, completely flat. Instantly, I knew I wanted it as part of my flower garden pathway. I positioned it in the stream so dirt (mother earth) was washed off.

It wasn’t difficult to lift. Carrying in the crack of my left elbow, and in the fold of my right hand. Every 100 yards or so I must give my arms a rest, so lean it against a tree as I take in the bare beauty of oak leaves thick under my rubber boots. The sky is soft gray (Gaylee’s last name is Gray) which color I used to dislike, so non-descript, I now wear: my fuzzy gray coat and her gray-checked bathrobe, fondly. Probably, nine times I’ve lowered my heart-rock to Mother Earth in order to rest my arms, when a man walking by asks if I want some help.

I reply, “No thank you; it’s good exercise.” Little does he know; my heart feels pride in this work.